Volibear Build Guide by Marsdreamer
Mastery Tree Is Outdated
WARNING: These masteries are still using the old tree and have not been updated to the new tree by the guide author. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Welcome to my guide of competitive ranked Volibear jungle. I strongly believe that Voli's top position in any composition is the jungle (compared to Top or support). A lot of people have really undervalued the potential of this champion, and while he may not be a "God Tier" jungler such as Nocturne, Mundo, or Udyr; he has a strong kit and some very insane ganking potential.
So, without further ado, I give you my Volibear Jungle Guide.
Pros / Cons
+Extremely tanky, and with his passive comes high survivability
+A good dueler against other junglers
+Very strong ganks with Q>E combo.
+A very strong mid game
+Decent clear times
+He's a Fu**ing bear!
+A seriously amazing initiator and peeler.
-No true gap closer
-Requires a bit of feeding (as any bear would ;) )
-Pretty item dependant, but still offers a small amount of utility
-looooooong ability cooldowns.
Jungling, your route, and ganking.
There are a bajillion jungling guides out there on the internet, so I'm not going to specifically tell you how to jungle here. If you're new to jungling, Volibear is not for you and you should do a bit of research on the topic.
I recommend starting Wolves to Blue with Volibear, as it will later give you some flexibility. after getting blue, immediately gank a lane and then return back to your jungle (or gank another lane if the opportunity is presented). Taking wolves first and then ganking 1 or 2 lanes allows for you to immediately take red with smite off CD and then gank the third lane (whether it be top or bot). Below I've included a similar route to the above described, however the pictures illustrate a more traditional jungling route.
Obviously no jungle route is set in stone, and it takes a lot of practice as well as map awareness to know which lanes are gankable and when, as well as which lanes require ganking right away (such as pre-level 6 Ahri lanes). That being said, the below images are the routes I tend to take when I'm either top or bottom.
Forgive the bad Paint skills.
*Circles represent Camps
*Lines represent paths/routes
*Stars represent ganking
*Numbers represent order of execute.
Bottom Jungle Route
Top Jungle Route**Routes 3/4 are up to you which direction you want to go. Mid is always a good lane to gank early and allow your AP the upper hand during the laning phase, while bottom (which is probably not warded yet) has the possibility to net you 2 kills; however it is much harder to successfully gank.
The two main points I would like to draw here are this:
You should be ganking constantly. Volibear is an amazing ganker and as such you need to capitalize on that. He is highly mobile, so keep pressure on every lane you can, make them fear that you're roaming in every bush, behind every corner, and beyond their field of vision at all times.
Gank right as you turn level 2. This is why we take at level 2 and not . In most of my games where I jungle Volibear I am able to secure first blood and you should be able to as well. Talk to your lane mates, make sure they're prepared, and if possible, ask them to take their stun (assuming they have one) level 1.
Jungling With Style (Camping and The Lane Gank)
Before I move on, I want to point out two very important aspects of jungling that will secure you the game.
The first is my personal favorite.
The In Lane Gank Ganking doesn't always involve just running from river into lane and hoping for the best, especially since river is generally warded. When you find that your ganking is being blocked by wards, adding this trick into your bag will help you immensely. The "in lane" gank theory goes as follows. Take, top lane for example, you will want to enter from your lane, but so that enemy minions do not get vision on you.
A lot of times this involves asking whoever is laning to shove their lane so that you can enter from where your tower is into the brush. If the minions are set close to the middle and the enemy champion wanders too close, engage with as much CC as you can ( Rolling Thunder and Majestic Roar) and burst them down fast. This is often a very effective tool because the enemy usually has no idea that you are hiding in the lane and will be more aggressive, looking to trade with your top laner. The key to a successful lane gank is to avoid being seen at all costs do NOT move from brush to brush unless you are absolutely sure that minions do not have vision to you, or the gank will fail and you'll waste time sitting in a bush soaking up XP.
(Pictures on this to come)
Camping LaneAnother tactic that is underrated, however somewhat risky (I'll explain why) is camping the lane. If your lane mate is matched unfavorably (a hard counter) or is against a champion that can snowball very effectively you may want to consider camping the lane. This involves ganking or attempting to gank every minute or so. You want to come from river, tribush, and the above lane ganking method as often as possible; even if they know you're there they cannot farm effectively without risking dying. If done successfully you will starve them of XP and CS, effectively making them useless. This is a risky move however because it sharply cuts out of your ability to clear your own camps and most importantly help other lanes. Use your own best judgement when you need to camp a lane. Two successful ganks in a row should set your lane mate ahead enough for you to roam again.
Onto everybodies favorite section. The build. This isn't a particularly fancy Volibear build, however it is successful. The main build listed is only relevant up to the core 4 items, so pay attention to the alternative items section.
I always start out boots and 3 pots, however if you're more comfortable with cloth 5 or new to jungling, feel free to start out there. Boots 3 is a very effective Volibear start however, as it gives you the speed and ganking potential you need right at level 2. Few people can escape a 500 MS bear with 2 CCs; even with flash.
> > >
Little to no CC or Magic Damage (or heavy Physical Attackers)
> > >
After your first return, you should be coming back with about 1000 gold (don't B until you have that much gold unless you have to) With this you should purchase Madredz Razors. From here you should go out, clear your camps, gank more and then return with enough gold to get your T2 boots and Wriggle's Lantern. I have had surprising success rushing Ninja Tabi in games where Merc's isn't a necessity since Ninja Tabi are significantly less expensive and give you very strong early game durability; not to mention speed.
Late Game Build/ Finishing it off
> > >
This is where it gets too varied for any set in stone build sequence to make sense, however there are some strong items that I recommend for Volibear to invest in after the 30 minute mark and that is what the above build represents. You should probably invest in some MR before you purchase Randuin's Omen, especially if you invested in Ninja Tabi instead of [Mercury's Treads]], hence getting Hexdrinker beforehand. The rest of the build is pretty self explanitory, and you'll likely only get this far if the game has gone on far too long, or you're incredibly fed. If it's the latter, good job :)
Late Game Alternatives and Situational Items
A pretty self explanatory item. It gives you health, MR, and Mana; everything a good bear needs. This item could in theory replace Hexdrinker if you find that the team has some strong APs and your team has sufficient damage (IE, you just need to soak up fire, rather than dish out DPS). I really only recommend this item if the enemy team has a lot of poke or CC initiates that you need to counter.
One of my favorite tanking items in the game. Unparalleled magic resistance with a nice movement buff as well as some intense health regeneration. It's a n item designed for pure tankiness and absorbing burst magic damage. Ultimately however I rarely purchase this item on Volibear unless the enemy team is running dual APs and at least one of them are fed because it is very pricy and doesn't give you any health.
Definitely not a late game item, however this is a very strong situational mid game item that synergizes very well with Volibear. His passive will benefit from it (an increase of ~10!) and it gives him some much needed health, CDR, and magic resist. Don't underestimate this item, it's cheap and very effective.
I realize that this item is in the main build, however I wanted to discuss specifically why I include this item as standard on Volibear since many have expressed disinterest in it on Volibear. Well, here's why. Towards the end of the game Volibear starts to fall off very sharply, since for the most part he needs tanky items to be effective in the mid game. This leaves you with little to no damage items. Maw of Malmortius gives you a significant damage boost, especially when you start to lose health. The shield also kicks in right when your passive dose, allowing for you to soak up a little extra damage and keep from being bursted down while your passive regenerates you.
Another very effective item for Volibear. Wit's End Synergyzes extremely well with Frenzy and Thunder Claws. This is more of an offensive based item that I only recommend picking up if you are significantly ahead and also have some tanky team members on your side since this item provides very little in the way of defensive power. Picking this item up when you're ahead will ensure your damage output remains high and makes it that much harder for the enemy team to make a comeback.
Physical Damage Resistance
All in all, this is not a very effective item on Volibear. I would only recommend this item if for some ungodly reason the entire enemy team is AD based. It offers a decent amount of armor (however not worth replacing Randuin's Omen) and it's damage return falls off late game.
If the enemy has a significant amount of AD and you are finding that you need extra life beyond that of the Warmog's feel free to invest in this item, however I personally think Randuin's Omen is still a better option and I wouldn't sacrifice this in place of Frozen Mallet or an MR item.
Being a bruiser is a hard life, and often you find yourself in the middle of all the action, ripping apart multiple targets at a time. If you find that you're the sole initiator in your team and you're getting bursted down too quickly to turn the tide of the fight, consider purchasing this.
I choose 9/21/0 Masteries for Volibear because he specializes as a tanky DPS, not to mention the Attack Speed and Armor pen buff will help you much more than anything in Utility has to offer. All in all, I'm not going to go super far into explaining masteries for two reasons.
1) This isn't an uncommon mastery tree for a tanky DPS jungler, so what needs to be said has been said 100 times.
2) People have their own preferences and that's okay. I encourage players to mess around with their mastery tree and inform me on how it goes. Maybe there is some crazy 12/15/13 tree out there that is the best, frankly I haven't tried every mastery combination; the above is simply the most effective I've found.
It is fairly clear what the skill sequence is by the above layout, however here I'll go into a little bit of detail about each skill, how to use it and why it is maxed in the order that it's maxed.
First off though, let's not forget about our favorite Passive.
One of the more fun aspects of Volibear. It allows you to sustain longer in fights, in jungle, and be a serious **** about baiting your opponents. People tend to forget that Voli will heal so much health and greedy players might see an opportunity to go balls deep at you only to find that they didn't quite have the damage to eat through your passive as well as your remaining health. This ability also allows you to win low level jungle skirmishes. When the fight starts pop a health potion and just DPS as much as possible (ping for help too). A lot of times the fight might look like it's tipping in their favor, however once your passive kicks in they usually realize they've made a terrible mistake.
I've already talked about this quite a bit, however you want to take this second for early ganks, but max it last. The only thing it really buffs with levels is decreasing the cooldown and increasing damage. All in all, it's a utility spell that is perfect for peeling off enemy champions, securing early ganks, and getting around the map a little faster (only do this if you have blue buff!). Be careful however, Never fling your opponents TOWARDS safety! This is the absolute worst thing you could do. If it means not flinging them in order to not fling them back towards their team or tower, then by all means, don't do it. Eventually you'll get the hang of maneuvering around your opponents and flinging them the right way.
Your primary damage dealer and late game nuke (as it scales off of your bonus health and deals extra damage based on enemy missing health). You want to spam this as much as possible during team fights and it gives you a rather nice attack speed boost that synergizes with Wriggle's proc for jungling. We max this second because in terms of ganking you'll likely only ever get to bite the enemy once and Majestic Roar is better for clearing jungle camps.
This is your first and foremost skill. It does a significant amount of damage, has a nasty 50% 3 second slow with a fairly decent cooldown. This clears camps rather quickly, as well as decreasing the damage you'll take from fearing the minions. You'll want to use this ability to slow opponents as you go into gank and disrupt enemy movements in team fights. Keep in mind that this has a longer range than your fling, so if you're finding you're just out of range to fling, use Majestic Roar to slow them and then fling.
A rather unimpressive ultimate if you ask me, however it is decent in team fights during mid game. As soon as you get this, use it every time you gank or engage in a fight. It has a short enough cool down that it should be up for every fight and even 1v1, it adds a decent attack damage buff that synergizes with Frenzy fairly effectively. Towards late game it will fall off significantly, however it does jump to 4 potential targets, meaning fighting in clumped quarters is the most effective place for Voli to seek out engagements.
For me, there are really only two viable summoner spell options ( Smite / Flash) and I will explain why.
Smite is self explanitory simply because you need it for jungling, securing buffs, baron, and dragon. Flash is the summoner spell I take because it allows you to close massive gaps in conjunction with Rolling Thunder. This allows you to dramatically surprise your enemies, peel off carries, and catch up to fleeing opponents. In most games I rarely find myself out of position, which is when the majority of people would say "I'll take Exhaust instead for better team fight presence and ganking potential." Flash is still a better option in my opinion as it will allow you to make some insanely daring initiates for your team. Often the game is decided on one player getting caught out of position and Volibear can take advantage of that fact extremely well. In most of my games I use Flash offensively to secure ganks, save allies, or peel off squishies from their team.
I won't go into other options simply because if you end up not using Flash you have some secondary motivator that likely won't change. IE, you really like Exhaust or Ghost or whatever. It is okay to deviate from Smite/ Flash I just think that a Volibear without flash is a lot of wasted potential.
Mixing it up in Team Fights
Volibear, like any bruiser has two very specific roles in team fighting. You are the player that is tasked with finding the squishiest target you can find, sticking to it, and eating it alive. A lot of times as Volibear you will be initiating the fight onto a squishy, so it isn't that difficult to get to them. Ideally you want to go from squishy to squishy flipping them, slowing them, and shredding them apart. Stick to them like glue and zone them out of the fight.
Alternatively your second role is somewhat to protect your carry as any tank should. Ideally this is your support's job, but if your support is someone like Soraka or Sona who cannot effectively protect your carries, make sure that you don't tunnel vision on the enemy and chase them into oblivion. Volibear can help out the carry on your team immensely by flipping enemy bruisers away and slowing them with Randuin's Omen and Majestic Roar, allowing your carry to re position or shred their health. You don't want to DPS the enemy bruiser too long as they likely have high armor resistances making your damage less effective.
Once mid game starts and you've built your Warmogs it is time to go looking for fights. Mid game is when Volibear shines the most as his damage output is still high at this point in the game without offensive items, and the defensive items just make you near impossible to kill. Once laning phase has ended, roam with your team, fight for Dragon or enemy buffs. Try to catch enemies out of position in their jungle or too far in your lane. Try and end the game before late game (post 40 minute mark) begins as you will start to drop off sharply with no offensive items or low levels of MR. Once late game begins you'll want to shift your tanky build into a more offensive tanky build, which is why Maw of Malmortius and Frozen Mallet are listed last. They give you a nice mixture of durability and damage that will carry you into late game and allow you to stay effective.
Remember, all it takes is for you to capitalize on one enemies mistake of being out of position for you to gank them, secure baron, and push to victory. That is how games are won, and it is something that Volibear excels in.
Author's Notes and Change Log
Thank you all for reading this far down, I am not well versed in writing guides, however I would appreciate any and all feed back you have for me. If you vote, please leave a comment and please don't downvote (or even upvote) before you've tried the build out yourself.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Videos and screen caps will be coming soon (as soon as I figure out how to transfer LoL replays to Youtube).
None yet. (published 5/29/2012)
YoDaTV's guide Volibear, the rolling snowball of soloQ!
Comprehensive Solo Top Volibear
Revenge of the arctic: Volibear (Top / Jungle / Support)
Volibear Solo Top Carry Style [S3]